Long London Layover - how to spend time away from the airport

We have teamed up with Ebookers to share their new travel tool, Take Over Your LayoverIt allows users to customize their London layover, from exploring Central London to finding the best shopping and dining options within the airport based on who you’re traveling with and what mood you’re in.

Now that we are no longer residents of London, our visits revolve around all the food we want to eat and restaurants we want to check-out. In particular, we always make it a priority to go to the wonderful food markets that are scattered about London. With limited time and so many great vendors, markets provide the best opportunity for proper grazing.

Our perfect layover is all about the food, and lots of it.

London Airport Guide

Our Perfect Layover

With limited time and stomach space, we would go directly to Borough Market. Located along the south side of the River Thames, it is the oldest and largest market in London. Our favorite time to visit is during lunch hours Thursday-Saturday, when the is in full swing. It is a true London institution.

There are a variety of transport options from Heathrow, but while a car service or taxi would be the most direct, it is the costliest option (minimum of £50 each way) and the drive could take anywhere from 45 minutes to 90 minutes, depending on traffic.

Instead, the easiest way to get to Borough Market is to hop on the Tube (Picadilly Line) from Heathrow. Once in Central London, transfer from the Piccadilly Line to the Jubilee Line at Green Park, taking it four more stops to London Bridge. It takes about an hour and costs roughly £3 each way.

Exiting London Bridge station, you are right across the street from the entrance to Borough Market, with plenty of signs helping you find the way.

What to eat at Borough Market

What to Eat

There are literally dozens upon dozens of food options around the market. There are full service restaurants, and plenty of food stalls selling everything from the British classics like pork pies and Scotch eggs, to a bevy of international dishes like Indian curries and Ethiopian stews. From us, you’ll get two votes for snacking your way around the market. It’s our favorite thing to do.

Here are our picks in Borough Market

Gujarati Rasoi

These purveyors of flavorful vegetarian Indian food dish out samosas, bhajis, and a variety of veggie dishes. The best bet is to go for their vegetarian thali (£6.50), a mixture of basmati rice, yogurt, and tamarind sauce with a featured dish of the day. The curried cauliflower is our favorite.

What to eat at Borough Market

Kappacasein

Simply put, here you’ll find the greatest grilled cheese sandwich (or cheese toastie as the Brits’ say) on the planet. The mixture of Montgomery Cheddar and super gooey Ogleshield makes for an ideal cheese blend, sandwiched on local sourdough from Bermondsey, all for £6. Kappacasein also offers racellete, with half-wheels of Ogleshield positioned under gas heaters, creating bubbly, melty cheese that is poured over steamed potatoes with gherkins. Sounds amazing, but it is more show than taste. Take a photo of the racelette, order the cheese toastie. You’re welcome.

Best Dishes in London: Grilled Cheese at Kappacasein

What to eat at Borough Market

Brindisa

While the Brindisa restaurant, located on the corner of the market, is an excellent choice for a drink and some tapas, their retail store is worth a look, as it is stocked with the highest quality Spanish ingredients, like whole legs of Iberico ham. Even better, they maintain a sandwich stall just outside the retail shop, selling a legendary chorizo roll (about £5) which is worth the hype. A grilled chorizo sausage, on a roll, with arugula and piquillo peppers. Simple and delicious.

Horn OK Please

Strange name, fabulous food. The best dish is the moong dal dosa (£5), an Indian street food that is similar to a crepe, but made from rice and lentil flour (their entire menu is gluten-free). Horn OK Please wraps the dosa around masala potato, and serves it with a side of chutneys with chickpeas and pomegranate.

What to eat at Borough Market

Bread Ahead

Borough Market is known for its many bakery options. While there are many excellent choices, Bread Ahead is the best of the best. The focaccia is to die for, but don’t overlook the doughnuts. At £2.50 each, and offered in flavors like salted honeycomb and creme caramel, these are a perfect way to end a day at the market.

Best Dishes in London: Donuts at Bread Ahead

A View and a Cocktail

Before going back to the airport, check out our pick for the best view of London. Directly above the London Bridge Tube Station is the Shard, the tallest building in London, it’s sharp lines visible from almost anywhere in the city.

The Shard has a public observation deck near the top, but those in the know head to the 33rd floor instead, home to Hutong, an upscale Chinese restaurant. For less than the cost of a ticket to the observation deck, you can enjoy a cocktail in the bar area of Hutong and get the same unobstructed view of many of the major sites in the city, like the Tower of London and St. Paul’s Cathedral. It’s a win-win.

Happiness Forgets, London

Back to Heathrow

After sampling the variety of food at Borough Market and toasting London with cocktail at Hutong, it will probably be time to head back to the airport. Luckily, this itinerary departs from the same station, so travel back to Heathrow is easy.

The entrance to the London Bridge Tube Station is just around the corner from the entrance to the Shard’s lobby. So as you find a seat and make your way back to the airport, you can be satisfied in a layover well spent.

Want to see more options for layovers in London? Check out more at Take Over Your Layover by Ebookers. And if you don’t have time to hop on the Tube into London, but still want to sample the best food Heathrow has to offer, check out our pick for the best dining spot within the airport!

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  • April 22, 2017
    Chrysoula

    What a perfect layover. When I was in London I did exactly as you did. Spend the morning in Borough market and at the evening I went up to the Shard for dinner.

  • April 23, 2017
    barb

    Borough Market is certainly a good place to see. I take everyone there, who comes to visit me in London.

  • April 23, 2017
    Megan Jerrard

    Awsome guys, thanks for this! As a huge international hub, London is our layover all the time for trips to Europe, but we usually end up hitting up the lounge. Will absolutely head out next time!

  • April 24, 2017

    I’m right with you guys about exploring with my stomach. I loved wandering around Borough Market when I was in London and had an amazing ostrich burger.
    Brianna Simmons recently posted…The Inn at Perry Cabin: Casual Luxury on Maryland’s Eastern ShoreMy Profile

    • April 24, 2017

      No shortage of good food at Borough Market!

  • April 24, 2017

    We’ve never had more than a couple of hours on a layover. I’m actually looking at planning longer ones so we have a chance to actually see the cities we’re stopping in.

  • April 25, 2017

    I love London and there’s so much to do. But when I have a long layover, I’ll admit, I usually stay in the British Airways First Class lounge. It’s hard to beat free and unlimited food, drinks, and shower, and a spa treatment. Thanks for creating a fun itinerary, maybe next time I’ll skip the lounge and head into the city for a bit.
    Debra Schroeder recently posted…100k Hilton Points, 5 Hours in Miami, and More!My Profile

  • April 25, 2017

    What an efficient layover! Next time, I’ll make sure that if I get a layover, I’ll explore as much as I can with a limited time.

  • April 26, 2017

    I knew as soon as I saw that cheese it was for a cheese heater! We saw that in the French Pyrenees, can’t believe we never got to try it!

  • April 26, 2017

    Wow, that view! Loving that view from the Shard, I will love to stop by there if I ever have a layover in London. By the way, the food is always the best cure for any layovers 😉
    Lieurene recently posted…Meeting Deaf People Around the World in 2016My Profile

  • May 3, 2017

    These are some amazing ideas! Loved the recommendations!